TEACHERS! For years teachers of English-as-a-second language have been using my book, CHILDREN OF THE RIVER, as a tool. Apparently the romance makes for high level interest while my uncomplicated style of writing is accessible to students just learning English.
Now it turns out the my Oregon Trail novel works the same way. I visited a class the other day and loved listening to a group of Chinese and Korean women sorting out the relationships in the King family! They really grasped concepts that might be beyond the youngest readers who encounter this book.
The teacher, Pat Schmaltz, has developed a wonderful set of study questions. Sometimes writers find the questions written up for their book rather insipid, so I sat up and paid attention when I realized what a great job Pat had done with these. She has offered to share them, so if you'd like a copy, email me at LJC1@earthlink.net.
Burnpile at our Plunkett Creek forest property over Memorial Day weekend, 2016. About a quarter of a mile behind me is the old homestead property of Ashnah Norton Plunkett, King family member and first white child born in Kings Valley. King Family members, please note my King Family Reunion T-shirt. I love being in Kings Valley, working in the woods, and this will definitely go down as one of the better days of my life!
Congratulations to Emma Lancaster for her prize-winning essay about her treasured heritage as an Oregon Trail descendant. Emma is a 4th great-granddaughter of Lovisa King, the heroine of A Heart for Any Fate, and the essay contest was sponsored by the Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers.
As of October 29th, 2015, A HEART FOR ANY FATE: Westward to Oregon 1845 is available as an e-book from Amazon.com.
It's no secret that King family descendants all prefer the original cover of A HEART FOR ANY FATE, which features a photo I took of Hayley Thompson, a King family descendant by way of Hopestill King Norton. I understand their feelings, although I think Ooligan's cover using an anonymous girl is quite arresting. Not that I have control over my covers, but if I did, surely Dacia Williams, pictured here, would be a great candidate for portraying Lovisa King, the book's heroine. Beautiful Dacia is just seventeen, the same age Lovisa was when she set out on the Oregon Trail. Especially cool is the fact that she is a direct descendant of Lovisa herself. For the benefit of King family members who keep track of these things, her line is traced through Lydia Chambers, Addie Maxfield, Evenlyn Taylor, Patricia Fickenscher and Mark Williams. Attention Ooligan Press! If you need a new cover girl, here she is!
Mary Bozym, a 7th grade teacher in Green River, Wyoming, smack on the Oregon Trail, was looking for a classroom set of A HEART FOR ANY FATE. Now she kindly shares a connection to a company that gives a good discount for bulk purchases.
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Mary wrote: "I loved the balance of adventure, the characters, and the historical context. I had been reading Oregon Trail books for young adults non-stop trying to find the right one for our class and yours was perfect. It was clean, adventurous and pulled at the heart strings."
"Oregon Trail Rose"
For Linda's thoughts on the new art film, Meek's Cutoff, a story ostensibly based on the same historical incident included in A HEART FOR ANY FATE, please scroll down this page.
Willa Literary Award
Given by Women Writing the West
Oregon Book Award Winner
Stevens Prize Winner
Washington Reads Spring 2006 List
Spur Award Finalist 2006
Western Writers of America
"Staff Pick" at Powell's Books
From BOOKLIST, the bible for librarians:
"In this richly detailed novel that originally appeared in 2005, Crew creates a riveting, fictional story from the bare facts of an extended family's grueling journey across the Continental Divide ... Seventeen-year-old Lovisa narrates in a wholly believable voice....an accomplished story that will easily find a place in the curriculum."
The Oregon State Library has named A HEART FOR ANY FATE to its list of 150 Books for Oregon's Sesquicentennial
Check out a five star, "Gold Award" review of A HEART FOR ANY FATE at Teens Read Too
Please scroll down this page for more review quotes.
King Family descendant Nigel Parkhurst at the 2009 reunion. He looks exactly the way I envisioned patriarch Nahum King when the family set out for Oregon.
This book, written by Oregonian Mary Jane Carr, was one of my favorites as a child. When I began work on my own covered wagon novel, I found and bought a signed edition, just for luck!
"Madonna of the Prairie," painted for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post when the famous novel, "The Covered Wagon" was serialized in 1922.This image has been used for subsequent Oregon Trail books, but I wanted my Lovisa King to be a bit more "chin up!" How lucky I was to get a real descendant of the King family as my cover model for the first edition. (See above) We superimposed the photo I took of her on a painting from the Smith College Museum of Art, "South Pass, the Wind River Range, Wyoming," painted in 1860 by Seth Frost.
A big shout-0ut to this great group of kids in Maryellen Shafer's 7th class in Garden City, Texas! It made my day to hear how much you liked my book.
"I read your novel with my 7th grade class this year. We are in Garden City, Texas. Each day they would beg for us to read another chapter. They just couldn't get enough. The book created so much discussion and excitement in our classroom. Some days there would be giggles or squeals and others I would look up and see such heartache and tears because they felt very close to all of the characters. When we read the last chapter several of my students just sat there and hugged their books with such big smiles on their faces. My students then asked if I could take them on a field trip to Oregon!! :) (I wish) I have read this book for the last 4 years and I still have High School kids ask me if my Junior High kids have read A Heart for Any Fate yet. We write our own diaries after we read your book and it has really helped them to understand the many emotions and adventures of being on the Oregon Trail. I can't thank you enough for writing this truly touching story. It is one of our greatest treasures of the year." Maryellen Shafer
The sound of a wish in a single word.
At least that’s how it sounds to one girl on the Missouri frontier. It’s spring, 1845, and no one is more excited about her family’s long-anticipated trek to Oregon than seventeen-year-old Lovisa King. And why not? Unlike her older sisters, she has no babies to worry about, no sick husband to tend. She’s young, strong, bursting with energy, and even the neighbors’ dire warnings of wilderness perils can’t scare her. After all, who’s better prepared for this than the King family? Aren’t their five brand new covered wagons the finest ones in the jump-off camp? Aren’t they stocked with all the latest in modern traveling equipment? Most confidence-inspiring of all to Lovisa is knowing that her father, Nahum King, is not a man who’d strike out with all three generations of his huge family in tow unless he felt absolutely sure he could get them all to Oregon safely.
Based on the history of a company of real pioneers, A Heart for Any Fate tells of a proud family whose careful plans are challenged by the harsh and unforeseen realities of overland travel, and whose faith is sorely tested by the decision to follow guide Stephen Meek on a shortcut that will be known forever after as the Terrible Trail.
Award-winning author Linda Crew brings to life a page of history never before dramatized in fiction, the story of the “Lost Meeks.” This is the gripping account of a family’s struggle, told in the fresh voice of the daughter destined to grow from girl to woman as she fulfills her role in the epic drama of westward expansion.
"A Heart for Any Fate does exactly what we want historical fiction to do. After painstaking research and with a keen eye for detail, Linda Crew brings the populated past to vibrant life. The extended King family, setting off for Oregon in 1845, come completely to life on the page, each one an individual, each one someone the reader cares about. The author magnificently tells the large story of the perilous trek west, and within it the small stories of a family, their squabbles and triumphs and heartbreaks. Such fiction makes the past come alive for the young reader by creating characters with personalities that we understand and know."--Lois Lowry, Newbery Medalist, Oregon Book Award Judge
"Crew writes books for young readers from her Corvallis home. She does it so well that many adults want to read the results. This time, she used the true story of an Oregon Trail family to create a short novel of change, daring, adventure, loss and devotion that reads so freshly it seems as if you've never heard this story before."--Dan Hays, in selecting "A Heart for Any Fate" as one of his ten best books of the year. Salem Statesman Journal, January 1, 2006
"This book will appeal to both adults and to young adults. A heartfelt story....difficult to put down, from its first words `West. The sound of a wish in a single word' to the family's arrival on Oregon soil."--Jan Walsh, Washington State Librarian, in selecting the book for the Spring 2006 "Washington Reads" list
"The word `history' takes its meaning from both `story' and `an account well-investigated.' Linda Crew reflects both in A Heart for Any Fate...giving us `history' at its best."--Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of eleven novels including A Land of Sheltered Promise, The Overland Journal, Fall 2005
"I like what Linda Crew has done. It is a fresh look at an old story, done so very well."--Lowell Tiller, co-author of Terrible Trail: the Meek Cutoff 1845.
"Crew, aided by extensive research into Oregon Trail journals and documents, historical photos and a personal trip along the route, skillfully brings the experience of pioneer families to life....Crew's style, while accessible to young readers, is compelling for adults as well."--Bill Andrus, Northwest Books, The East Oregonian March 20, 2005
Three generations of Lovisa King's descendants gather in Kings Valley at the 2009 King Family Reunion. Judie Kelloff shepherds her daughters and grandchildren at the picnic held on the land originally homesteaded by their ancestors..
In 2008, a marker engraved with the names of Nahum and Sarepta King and their children was placed in the Kings Valley Cemetery by the King Family Association.
We detoured on our Oregon Trail research route to check out the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie. I wanted to see a bit of authentic prairie. Since the book ended up winning the Willa Award, named for Willa Cather, I'm especially glad we did.
My husband and I at the famous landmark, Chimney Rock, in Nebraska.
Devil's Gate in Wyoming. Here, the Sweetwater River flows through a three hundred foot cleft in the rocks.